The “Fantastic Four”
Before the age of superhero movies dawned upon the world, there was The Incredibles a film that so cleverly avoids common pitfalls of the genre and delivers an interesting take on the superhero psyche. It’s witty, thrilling, hilarious, and deep in it’s exploration of a world filled with superheros while also being an overall entertaining film in its own right. Most importantly, it is timeless with its themes and social commentary still having a relevance in today’s society. The Incredibles went beyond what a Disney film was capable of and set a new standard for what the genre should do.
There are many reasons why the film works so well and how it has stood the test of time in being one of the most beloved films by Disney. First off, the story and world that is built is so unique and original compared to other superhero films. We start with a world where superheros are praised for their heroics and are adored by the people. But that is only the first ten minutes as we dramatically see the world turn on “supers” and they are forced into retirement having now to adjust to a life of normalcy.
Enter Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, two superheros with two very different attitudes towards the situation. Mrs. Incredibles/Elastigirl enjoys the slow pace of life and is comfortable with raising a family and being normal despite the thrill of being a superhero. Mr. Incredible on the other hand feels bored with his normal job and seeks small time thrills on weeknights with his buddy Frozone to feel the glory of being a superhero. It’s an interesting dichotomy for the family to have and easily gives some good under the surface drama for older audiences to digest while also providing some funny moments given the family dynamic.
But it’s Mr. Incredible’s calling back to being super that the film rest on for its plot. We see how happy he is when is doing what he loves and how bored and restrained he feels in his insurance job. We are able to empathize with him and understand why he is doing what he does and gives the movie more depth. He wants the best for his children but they can’t do sports or embrace their supernaturalness due to the limitations the world has put on superheros. It’s an incredibly personal and real conflict and one that has major resonations with audiences as they think of what they love to do and what they would want for their children.
The conflict that Mr. Incredible has created for himself embodies itself in Syndrome, a villain that is ultimately on a quest for revenge but is completely sympathizable and easily motivated. He’s someone who has seen his hero as a human being instead of like an idol. He feels abandoned by supers and feels that everyone should feel powerful and use the powers to how they see fit. His execution of the plan is a bit over the top, but the motivation behind it is understandable. He’s empathetic and human but also so keenly driven to carry out his plan. He may not be as complex as other villains, but for a superhero movie he is one of the best.
The movie also provides loads of entertainment value from the tense action scenes, to seeing the supers use the powers in more laid back setting, Disney spares no expense in its exploration of superheros. The audience cares about the characters so the action heightens and you are rooting for them to win even when it might seem dire. Seeing Dash, Violet, and other supers use their powers in creative ways brings some awe-inspiring and humorous moments that constantly keep me invested and amazed.
And most importantly, seeing the balance of superhero life with ordinary life proves to be hilarious. Edna Mode commenting on the use of capes, Mr. Incredible hiding his strength to the neighbors, and of course the iconic “where’s my supersuit” scene all provide great moments of levity to a thrilling film. Even 12 years later, people are still quoting and laughing at this movie, it is truly timeless.
The Incredibles is a film that is ahead of its time. In a world filled with superhero movies, it is weird to feel that The Incredibles feels so fresh and unique even though it came out so long ago. It provides and interesting look and world for which superheroes reside in and gives interesting and real world problems for the heroes to battle with in addition to the larger than life robots they must battle. The humor remains top notch and provides oodles of entertainment from start to finish. This film has one of the most requested sequels of all time and it won’t be long until we visit our favorite family once more!